In business, successful innovations all follow a similar curve. A new process or piece of tech is introduced, gains some traction, sees a good return from early adopters, and then skyrockets in terms of adoption. Especially where customer-facing innovations are concerned, once something has started to hurdle through early adopters, it’s only a matter of time before a new trend is necessary to compete.
Live chat for business is right on the cusp of skyrocketing — it’s seen early adopters succeed and changes in social behavior are hurtling it towards have-or-die status.
But there is still time to get on board before a huge wave of consumers demand live chat for business from everyone. And getting on board now will benefit you many times over in the long run. But don’t take our word for it—look at the data and you’ll understand that 2019 is the time for adopting live chat before it’s too late.
Live chat for business isn’t at its peak, it’s about to explode
Adopting live chat in 2019 will put you at a magical sweet spot. We have enough data to understand that customers like and want live chat, but it isn’t yet widespread enough that customers expect or demand it. Market research shows that in 2016, the global live chat market was valued at $590 million and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2017-2023.
Not surprisingly, the demand for live chat has surpassed that projected growth rate. In 2017, demand for live chat for business grew 8.3% and, despite live chat sustaining growth, companies have not yet been taking growing consumer demand seriously enough to make room for live chat implementation.
This means that adopters of live chat will still have an edge over competitors through 2019. Demand is there but businesses aren’t keeping up. Those who implement live chat will be offering something customers want and can’t get everywhere.
Additionally, leveraging live chat before the explosion of demand and adoption means that your company can perfect its live chat strategy before a flood of customers pours in. You can nail down your tone, train your support team, and set up your library of canned responses — something Gartner has identified as a key to live chat for business success. When it becomes non-negotiable to adopt live chat, you’ll already have your well-oiled setup running at full speed.
Rising in preferred support option
Just as the number of businesses adopting live chat hasn’t reached its peak yet, customer sentiment for live chat hasn’t either. But what we know about customer sentiment so far is a very compelling case for live chat—73% of customers think live chat is the most satisfying way of communicating with a business—and makes a lot of sense when you look at the larger consumer landscape.
Right now, we live in an age of convenience. Seventy-seven percent of internet users have a phone or a PC and 44% have at least one smartphone, tablet, and PC. Whenever a consumer wants information, inspiration, help or reviews, they can have it. Every major social platform caters to desktop and mobile, and e-commerce companies have to keep up.
Live chat offers the convenience that your customers expect. With live chat, a customer can multitask, chat on-the-go and contact support without breaking their flow of work. When you add in live chat support on mobile, it’s easy to see how chat naturally aligns with the convenience consumers want.
And where there’s convenience, there’s instant gratification. Consumers can shop and compare instantly, get notifications from anyone at any time, and access many lifetimes’ worth of content and products at the snap of their fingers. Live chat gets these customers immediate answers, with no lag time on the phone and no waiting for a support email.
Image source: Invespcro
This is especially important on touchy parts of the customer journey, where a browser is liable to abandon their purchase—like on a checkout page or a pricing page. Having immediate answers to their questions and concerns in these places hits that immediate gratification and helps to increase conversions.
The truth is that these expectations and changed behaviors are here to stay. The internet and internet-connected devices have changed what consumers want and when they realize there’s an option for it, they will follow.
Speak to Gen Z (and their wallets)
Generation Z, the cohort of people born in the mid-90s and early 2000s, is coming of age and they’re ready to spend. They are projected to be 40% of consumers by 2020 and they have been building on $44 billion in purchasing power from 2017 onwards. The oldest members of Gen Z are recent college grads; in the next few years, the majority of the generation will move out of school and into the workforce, or move out of entry-level posts to higher-paid positions.
Oh, and did we mention Gen Z does not want to talk on the phone? Sixty-five percent of them dislike the phone and a whopping 96% use text-based methods to talk to friends and family vs. calling. So when it comes to support, they’re not going to magically love calling just because it’s the most available option.
To capture this huge, upcoming market, you need to cater to their wants. According to Ernst and Young, one of the best ways for retailers to connect with Gen Z is by doing just that—which is where live chat for business comes in.
Gen Z prefers text communications, so give them that. Don’t make them call, don’t make them sit around waiting for an email, court their money by answering their questions instantly on live chat and giving them live chat support on every platform. Implementing this in 2019 establishes you as a relevant company for Gen Z and their needs before the whole market tries to gain their favor.
The countdown begins…
2019 is just around the corner. It’s not too late to get your entire support system optimized for live chat before it becomes necessary to do so—but the grace period won’t last for long. Live chat has been on the rise for business for several years already, and as we move towards a hyper-connected, instant world, it will be the premier choice for customer service and support going forward. If you’re in e-commerce, it’s time to get into it before it’s too late.